Walking and Mapping
Artists as Cartographers
348 pp., 7 x 9 in, 115 b&w photos
- Published: February 12, 2016
- Published: March 29, 2013
An exploration of walking and mapping as both form and content in art projects using old and new technologies, shoe leather and GPS.
From Guy Debord in the early 1950s to Richard Long, Janet Cardiff, and Esther Polak more recently, contemporary artists have returned again and again to the walking motif. Today, the convergence of global networks, online databases, and new tools for mobile mapping coincides with a resurgence of interest in walking as an art form. In Walking and Mapping, Karen O'Rourke explores a series of walking/mapping projects by contemporary artists. She offers close readings of these projects—many of which she was able to experience firsthand—and situates them in relation to landmark works from the past half-century. Together, they form a new entity, a dynamic whole greater than the sum of its parts. By alternating close study of selected projects with a broader view of their place in a bigger picture, Walking and Mapping itself maps a complex phenomenon.
Walking and Mapping is a veritable trove of generative ideas systematically unearthed as a 'subjective science' for inspired modes of engagement with the ground of everyday life. From Oulipian Pataphysics and Lettrist drift to Stalkers traversing the periphery of Rome, and from artists tracing Mexican and Moroccan border and immigration routes to microscopic landscapes and Intifada checkpoints, O'Rourke's book is a landmark contribution to authentic countercultural thinking.
Kristine Stiles, France Family Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University
Karen O'Rourke clearly has wide knowledge of the field and has provided a valuable and informative book. Walking and Mapping brings together, in an intelligent fashion, the state of the art in walking artistic practice. I am sure that for many readers it will be an engaging volume that will spark lots of new ideas.
Martin Dodge, Geography Department, The University of Manchester, and coauthor of Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life
In Walking and Mapping, Karen O'Rourke links the 'territories' of art and cartography. Other works have addressed this as a series of conference-delivered chapters, but Walking and Mapping provides a detailed investigation of the topic—from the artist's perspective.
William Cartwright, School of Mathematical and Geospatial Sciences, RMIT University
At once searching, lucid and engaged, Walking and Mapping is a remarkable primer for the study of an important and increasingly prominent cultural overlap.